Tag Archives: Colorado

Whats Next for the Republican Party?

By Lance Thibert

Regardless of how the presidential race ends up, the Republican party will come out of 2008 damaged to the core and internally divided. Even if McCain wins his squeaker by rolling snakes eyes in Pennsylvania, the damage the friction in the Republican party is already done. It was starkly evident in the primaries, with Rudy and McCain as the moderates, and Romney and Huckabee as the conservatives. The conservative wing of the party lost out, and has been pouting ever since, driving down enthusiasm for McCain and depression his turnout. Some think they got what they wanted in Sarah Palin, but she drives away more than she brings in. The recent reports of Palin “going rouge” and acting like a “diva” are driven by sources from within McCain’s own campaign.

Fighting over the RNC chairmanship has already begun, with Mitt Romney looking to pull a Howard Dean and seize the chair for himself. (don’t you just love politics?)

And that’s not the worst of it. Congressional Republicans are in a world of hurt, being hit in their strongholds by democratic challengers. Both Moderate and Conservative GOP senators are being hit hard. The GOP will lose many of it’s moderate incumbents, like Sunnunu in New Hampshire. The GOP recruits this cycle have been weak, often far too conservative in a Democratic year. Case in point, the Colorado senate race. Super-conservative Bob Schaffer will lose to Mark Udall, and Schaffer’s rival for the GOP nomination, McInnis, now says he would have won if they had given him the nod.

“Frankly I have more difficulties with the right wing of my party then I do with taking on a Democrat. Udall was not the biggest threat I faced in the election. My biggest threat was getting through the primary. Both parties have a pretty radical element to them.” -McInnis

The Question is who will control the Republican party? Will the right wing simply seize control of the party mechanics? It’s possible, but their recruits will probably continue to be weak. The two GOP favorites for a run for Colorado governorship in 2010 are Bob Beauprez (again) or, get this, Tom Tancredo. With Beauprez’s dismal result and Tancredo’s utter wingnut status, neither have a real shot. The point is, if the Republicans turn to the right, they will probably get Goldwatered again and again. If the Republicans turn to the center, they will suffer a drop in enthusiasm, fundraising, ground troops, and turnout. However, such a move might bring back states like Colorado, Virginia, New Hampshire and Iowa. The Blue Dog Democrat tactic of fitting the candidate to his/her district is working, even if that candidate is pro-gun, pro-life, and pro-war. In essence, the Democrats have expanded the tent of their party, while the Republicans have been busy purging all those who aren’t pure conservatives (“liberal” is never used more often as an insult than in republican primaries).

Who  will take over the Republican party after 2008? Only time will tell, but one thing Republicans can look forward to is the probability of infighting within the Democratic party. If Obama can keep things together, and run a unified government (I’m not sure anyone in American politics is capable of this anymore) then things look bleak for the GOP, However, that isn’t likely.

Also, just for the sheer irony of it:

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under Colorado, McCain, Republican

The Demise of Douglas Bruce

by Alicia Long

Douglas Bruce, the Colorado Springs Republican and author of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), and El Paso County Commissioner-turned state representative, has had an interesting year.  In this post I chronicle his descension from representative to his failed Primary bid in August for HD-15.

In December 2007, Bruce won an appointment to fill a vacancy in HD-15 left by Representative Cadman, who went on to the state Senate after the retirement of Senator Ron May. From the get-go, his appointment had people quivering in their boots.  From the Denver Post:

Surely, the best news Colorado Democrats have heard in a while was the reappearance of conservative über-villain Doug Bruce…

It’s not all negative for the Right, I admit. On entertainment value alone, throwing the vitriolic Bruce into a mix — where he can go toe to toe with equally nasty folks like, say, Michael Merrifield, D-Colorado Springs — should provide for some wonderful melees.

In the end, though, constituents will witness a huge waste of time.

Bruce wasted no time angering both Republicans and Democrats that week by saying that he would not be sworn into the legislature until January 14, although the session was to start on January 9.  This blatantly political move would allow Bruce to be eligible to serve a full four terms beyond the partial term under Colorado’s term limits rules.  This abuse of the rules led the legislature that session to pass a law stating that people elected to vacant seats must be sworn in within two weeks.  Speaker Andrew Romanoff punished him by only letting him introduce 4 bills, when typically a legislator has a limit of 5 bills they can author.

Do you think this controversy would shut Bruce up for the rest of the session?  Do you think he’d just get to work and let things settle?  I’ll give you time to think….

Times up.

And a headline from the day Bruce was sworn in says it all:  “Bruce kicks photographer, takes oath.”

Bruce said he became frustrated as photographers from The Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News were crouched at his feet as he bowed his head in prayer. He asked them not to take his picture and kicked the Rocky photographer, Javier Manzano, in the knee when he did…“Don’t do that again,” Bruce seethed, then brought down the sole of his shoe hard on the photographer’s bent knee.

Bruce offered no explanation or apology as the photographer left.

The best part of this…. Bruce demanded an APOLOGY FROM THE PHOTOGRAPHER!

CBS has the video of “the kick.”

All this after Bruce wanted to be sworn into office in front of the full House, although protocol is that vacancies are sworn in in a private ceremony in empty chambers.  Bruce threw a temper tantrum earlier that week when Speaker Romanoff refused to give in to Bruce’s request.  Rep. Mike May stated that Bruce needs to understand that “This is the House Of Representatives, not the House of Bruce.”

On January 24, 2008, Doug Bruce became the first member of the Colorado legislature to get censured for his behavior toward the photographer.  Way to go Bruce!

In February, Bruce again made headlines by being the only representative to refuse to cosponsor a Joint House-Senate resolution honoring Military and Veterans Appreciation Day.  This brought angry comments from house leadership from both parties.  Bruce would not offer an explanation as to why he made this choice.  This ultimately got him sacked from his position on the House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee:

“I no longer believe it is in the best interest of the House nor for the active-duty or retired military personnel of Colorado to have Representative Bruce continue to serve on the committee of reference for veterans and military affairs,” House Republican Leader Mike May, R-Parker, said in a statement.

In April came, arguably, Doug Bruce’s biggest blunder of the session.  While speaking at the podium during debate on a farm worker bill, Bruce called Mexican immigrants “illiterate peasants.”

From the RMN:

Rep. Douglas Bruce was cut off from House debate on a bill for a pilot foreign farm-worker program today after saying Colorado doesn’t need “5,000 more illiterate peasants.””How dare you,” said Rep. Rep. Kathleen Curry, D-Gunnison, who was chairing the floor debate. She ordered Bruce to leave the speaker’s podium.

All of this an more had led to Bruce’s ultimately failed bid for reelection to his HD-15 seat.  In the Republican primary, he had strong challenger, Iraq War vet Mark Waller.  This was one of the nastier primary fights we’ve seen this year, mostly because Bruce and Waller pulled no punches.  What became the most successful argument against Bruce was that he refused to co-sponsor the resolution honoring Military and Veterans Appreciation Day (remember that debacle?).  This became the final nail in the coffin of Doug Bruce.

Waller has one obscure Democratic challenger, Michelle Maskimowicz, who doesn’t have a chance in this district.  Say goodbye to the reign of Bruce and hello to Representative Waller.

3 Comments

Filed under Colorado

Colorado Represent

By:  Brian Bohnert  

With the collective national attention focused on the presidential race, sometimes the other races get lost in the political shuffle (not to be confused with the 1985 smash hit The Superbowl Shuffle).  While certainly not as compelling as the main event, congressional races in the state of Colorado open an excellent window into the unique demographic areas found within Colorado – from the urban centers on the front range, to the ranch lands of the western slope.  These races represent the pulse of the state within the context of national representation and deserve some much needed attention from students of political science and the media alike.

First, let us turn to the United States Senate race – the only state wide vote that will determine who represents Colorado in Washington DC.  Wayne Allard’s 2007 announcement that he would not seek a third term in congress left the Democrats salivating over the prospects of sending yet another senator to Washington and had the Republicans scrambling to defend a seat in a year that will prove to be difficult for the GOP brand.  Both parties avoided a tough primary election and the field was quickly narrowed to two seasoned Colorado politicans in Mark Udall (D) and Bob Schaffer (R), both former US Congressmen that had eyed the senate seat in the past.  With the Democrats riding a wave of success from the 2006 midterms (Governor, House, Senate, US Senate) Udall quickly seized the opportunity to tie Schaffer to the Bush “legacy” and contrast his own progressive record with Schaffer’s traditional republican model.  This ad not so subtly does the job:   Not surprisingly, Schaffer responded by pinning the “Boulder Liberal” tag on Udall, which carries with it all of those crazy things that Boulder voters care about (equal rights, clean environment, peace, birkenstocks…etc.).  Since this is a statewide race, and the conservative western slope/Colorado Springs area seems to respond (and by respond, I mean giggling about gays and pot smokers or gay pot-smokers) to this overplayed stereotype, this ad:    was a logical step for the Schaffer campaign.  In many ways, this race is emblematic of the the internal identity struggle within Colorado and in some respects the entire rocky mountain region.  Schaffer runs on a predictable pro-business, extraction economy, family values platform while Udall (a former Outward Bound instructor) runs on the also somewhat boilerplate pro-union, pro-environment, anti-war platform of the Democrats.  It seems the blue trend will continue in Colorado as recent polling shows Udall ahead by 6 points.  If this holds true, the duel Democratic representation in the US senate will be the first since the 1970s.

While the Colorado senate race is one of the most closely watched by pundits nationwide, no less important are the seven congressional districts within Colorado. Currently, the delegation is split 4-3 in favor of the Democrats who are hoping to pick up at least one more seat in the next session of congress and it looks like it might be possible – here is how:

District 1:

This mostly urban district has been controlled by the Democrats since 1973, most recently by Congresswoman Diana Degette, a life long Colorado resident and attorney who by most standards leans towards the liberal side of the spectrum.  She ran unopposed in the Democratic primary and faces George Lilly  in the general – a less than formidable opponent endorsed by Ron Paul and political heavy weight Chuck Norris.

District 2:

This district encompasses Boulder, Grand, Summit and Clear Creek counties and has been represented by Mark Udall (now running for the senate) since 1999 and leans heavily Democratic with Boulder having the final say in District 2 politics.  Not surprisingly, this race is considered a “safe” seat for the Dems as Jared Polis faces off against Scott Starin, a republican engineer with a focus on energy conservation technology who has managed to raise a paltry 15K for his war chest.  Polis, an openly gay candidate, made millions with online businesses and according to opensecrets.org spent a small fortune (5 mil) in his primary race to defeat former president of the Senate Joan Fitz-Gerald and is about to reap the rewards on his investment.

District 3:

This district is topographically the largest within the state stretching from Pueblo to the Utah border.  John, the younger of the Salazar brothers in the US congress, wrestled this district away from the grasp of republican control in the 2004 election who had clung to the seat since 1985 (well, sort of – Ben Nighthorse Capmbell was elected as a Dem and went all Benedict Arnold on us and changed allegiance to the GOP during his tenure in congress).  This year he faces off against Wayne Wolf, a western slope rancher with limited political experience and typical “big government, don’t take my guns” rhetoric on his website.  Not surprisingly, CQ politics predicts this as a safe seat for the Democrats.

District 4:

This race is the must watch show of the political season even for the casual observer of Colorado politics.  In a district that has been represented by uberconservative Marilyn Musgrave since 2004, a democrat has not seen playing time since the 1970s.  In fact, a few familiar republican faces – Wayne Allard and Bob Schaffer –  have represented this tradition loving district in the past.  However, her time in congress may be coming to a close as Rolling Stone recently pegged her as one of the “10 worst” members of congress and had this glowing report in a recent issue:

Musgrave has made regulating the bedroom behavior of her fellow Americans the focus of her entire career. An evangelical Christian who married her Bible-camp sweetheart, Musgrave does not believe in the separation of church and state.  For her opposition to gay marriage — as well as her push to legalize concealed weapons — Musgrave received an endorsement from the KKK in May.

She won close elections in 2004 and in 2006 and faces a tough challenger in Betsy Markey who worked as Ken Salazar’s frontwoman during his successful senate race in 2004.  While this race is officially “leaning republican” it looks like the Dems could pluck one out from under the GOP in November and give some much needed progressive elixir to the college educated types in Fort Collins.

District 5:

 

The 5th district encompasses Colorado Springs.  The winner will be Doug Lamborn.  He is a Republican.  Let’s move on.

District 6:

This district is one of the wealthiest and whitest in the nation with a median household income at over to 70k and a dominant white population (87.9%) so it is no surprise that the GOP has controlled the reigns since the early 1980s.  This district is home to John Elway, who was rumored to be considering either a run at the seat or possibly Allard’s senate seat.  Most recently,  self-appointed immigration czar Tom Tancredo has represented this district and hopes to hand it off to conservative Mike Coffman – the current Secretary of State.  His website  touts his military experience and labels him as a “proven conservative leader.”  Hank Eng, his Democratic challenger does not seem to pose a significant threat but recent rumors of corruption have been swirling around the Coffman camp and may allow the Dems to pull off an upset in CD6 – but it seems like a long shot at best.

District 7:

Prior to 2000, this district did not exsist but due to recent population growth in Colorado, the map was redrawn to account for an additional congressional representative.  This district was first represented by farmer turned politician Bob Beauprez who gave up the post in a failed gubeintorial race in 2006.  Democrat Ed Perlmutter won the seat in 2006 and hopes to defend it from a challenge by John Lerew this election cycle.  The Denver suburban district is bascially split in thirds between the Democrats, Republicans and Independents and Perlmutter has done just enough/not enough in his first term to earn another term in Washington and CQ politics.com agrees deeming this as a “safe Democratic” seat.

While these are only a small fraction of the seats up for grabs in the November, they are a good barometer for Colorado feelings on a whole.  If the polling holds up it could mean a 7-2 democratic advantage in the next session of congress and if the moons align, that figure could be pushed to an 8-1 margin – both of which will have DNC chairman Howard Dean screaming for joy.

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under Colorado, Uncategorized